FINANCE

IBM’s Watson Group invests in Fluid with eye toward personal shopping apps

BY Dan Berthiaume

Armonk, N.Y. — IBM said Tuesday that its Watson unit has invested in Fluid, a digital commerce firm, to develop personalized shopping applications using IBM’s cognitive computing tools.

IBM and Fluid are collaborating on the Fluid Expert Shopper (XPS) made with IBM Watson, an app that lets consumers ask it highly specific questions, as they would a sales associate in a store, and receive personalized advice. In partnership with The North Face and other brands, Fluid XPS will take advantage of Watson’s ability to answer consumer questions and learn from their responses, engage in real-time conversations and then tailor suggestions for products.

Watson will understand the context of its users’ questions, and continuously learn about their needs based on the information they share. When complete, Fluid XPS will draw on data, including the brand’s product information, user reviews and online expert publications through IBM Watson, to provide consumers with informed recommendations according to their needs and desires. Consumers will be able to interact with Watson on desktops, tablets and smartphones for the first time.

Drawing from $100 million that IBM has earmarked for direct investments to fuel a new class of cognitive apps, the IBM Watson Group is making an investment in Fluid to help deliver this app. As a Watson Ecosystem partner, Fluid is creating its cognitive technology in the Watson Developer Cloud, which provides a toolkit and sandbox for building cognitive apps, as well as access to Watson’s Application Programming Interface (API).

“By tapping into IBM Watson’s cognitive intelligence, Fluid is infusing the personalized, interactive feel of an in-store conversation into every digital shopping interaction,” said Mike Rhodin, senior VP, IBM Watson Group. “This is what positive market disruption looks like, and it’s a key example of how a new era of cognitive applications will revolutionize how decisions are made by consumers and businesses alike.”

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OPERATIONS

Report: Most data security incidents follow nine basic patterns

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York – Nine basic attack patterns that vary from industry to industry are the source of 92% of the 100,000 security incidents analyzed by Verizon since 2004. This finding from Verizon’s “2014 Data Breach Investigations Report,” identifies the nine threat patterns as miscellaneous errors such as sending an email to the wrong person; crimeware (various malware aimed at gaining control of systems); insider/privilege misuse; physical theft/loss; Web app attacks; distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks; cyberespionage; point-of-sale intrusions; and payment card skimmers.

In the retail sector, the majority attacks are tied to DDoS (33%), which are attacks intended to compromise the availability of networks and systems so that, for example, a website is rendered useless, followed by point-of-sale (POS) intrusions (31%).

Other key findings in the report include:

  • Cyber-espionage is up again in the 2014 report, representing a more than three-fold increase compared with the 2013 report, with 511 incidents partially due to a bigger dataset. As it did in 2013, China still leads as the site of the most cyberespionage activity; but the other regions of the world are represented, including Eastern Europe with more than 20%.
  • The use of stolen and/or misused credentials (user name/passwords) continues to be the number one way to gain access to information. Two-out-of-three breaches exploit weak or stolen passwords, making a case for strong two-factor authentication.
  • Retail POS attacks continue to trend downward, exhibiting the same trend since 2011. Industries commonly hit by POS intrusions are restaurants, hotels, grocery stores and other brick-and-mortar retailers, where intruders attempt to capture payment card data.
  • While external attacks still outweigh insider attacks, insider attacks are up, especially with regard to stolen intellectual property. The report points out that 85% of insider and privilege-abuse attacks used the corporate LAN, and 22% took advantage of physical access.

“After analyzing 10 years of data, we realize most organizations cannot keep up with cybercrime, and the bad guys are winning,” said Wade Baker, principal author of the Data Breach Investigations Report series. “But by applying big data analytics to security risk management, we can begin to bend the curve and combat cybercrime more effectively and strategically."

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OPERATIONS

RadioShack store ops exec resigns

BY Dan Berthiaume

Fort Worth, Texas – Troy Risch, executive VP of store operations at RadioShack Corp., has resigned to pursue other unspecified interests. The resignation is effective April 18, and his duties will be temporarily taken over by other executives.

Risch joined the company in December 2012. RadioShack is currently in the process of closing 1,000 stores. He previously spent 19 years at Target Corp. No timetable has been given to hire a permanent replacement.

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